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Posted June 24th, 2013 in Legal Insights with Tags , , , , , , , ,

For Employers, Prying into Employee Social Media Accounts Carries Risk

Data security and the prevention of malicious cyberattacks are top concerns among general counsel and corporate directors, which has led some companies to go as far as requiring employees hand over their personal social media accounts for inspection. One proposed law, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, aims to increase information sharing between companies and government agencies in order to combat online sabotage and theft. Yet critics of CISPA argue that the fact that the law could allow companies to share private employee data, including social media account details, is a violation of civil rights. While such extreme moves might be based on legitimate corporate concerns, says Nilan Johnson Lewis attorney Lisa Schmid, they also carry the risk of liability repercussions.

Multiple states have moved in recent months to ban the practice of employers requiring access to private social media accounts. Thirty more states have seen bills introduced in their 2013 sessions that also ban the practice, to varying degrees. Schmid suggests companies maintain clear documentation in accordance with regulatory standards and lean on law enforcement at this time if they suspect criminal activities are being carried out by employees. “If companies pry too much, there can be significant workplace, reputational and liability problems.”

Contact Lisa Schmid at 612-305-7549.

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